Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University has joined the Universities Studying Slavery collaboration

Dex Walker

NASHVILLE, TN — As part of its revived commitment to combat racial injustice, Vanderbilt University has become the newest member of the Universities Studying Slavery consortium working towards a more inclusive and inviting campus community.

“Vanderbilt’s membership in this consortium signals our dedication to a rigorous study of our institutional history,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “We recognize the importance of exploring and acknowledging the legacies of racial injustice and segregation through scholarship and rigorous research.”

The consortium, which was founded and is directed by the University of Virginia, began in 2014 with five Virginia schools and universities actively investigating their institutional connections to the slave trade.

Numerous Vanderbilt academic members are leading research studies and projects on the histories of enslavement and racial injustice in Nashville and throughout the world.

These include the following:

The Slave Societies Digital Archive, has conserved over a million pictures of endangered religious and secular documents relating to Africans and African-descended peoples in slave societies.

Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History, created and directs the archive, which has documented the lives of approximately 6 million free and enslaved Africans, their descendants and the indigenous, European and Asian people with whom they interacted.

Historic Black Nashville Mapping Project, directed by Daniel Sharfstein, law and history professor with Dick and Martha Lansden in Law, and Jane Landers. They co-organized the first University Course on Historic Black Nashville, training students to conduct research in local archives and historic locations.

Mapping Black litigants in Antebellum South, assistant professor of history, Kimberly Welch, works with Jim Schindling to map Black networks from her two book projects. Black Litigants in Antebellum South relies on lower court manuscript cases and include over 1,000 examples of Black litigants employing law on their own behalf—often successfully.

Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice, created and headed by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Art, promotes virtual talks and artistic collaborations centered on healing, solidarity and compassion during a time of major worldwide social disturbance. Trans-institutional partners of EADJ are Fisk University, Frist Art Museum and millions of conversations.

Black Lives and Liberation series, published by Vanderbilt University Press and co-edited by history professor Brandon Byrd. The series has two overall goals: to explore social justice and activism by Black people and communities throughout history to the present, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the evolving ways it is articulated and practiced throughout the African Diaspora; and to examine everyday life and culture, rectifying well-worn "histories" that have excluded or denied the contributions of Black Lives

Circum-Atlantic Studies, sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities and co-directed by Jane Landers, Daniel Genkins and Theron Corse, Professor of History, Geography and Political Science at Tennessee State University. It focuses on the topics of Atlantic slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism, with most sessions focused on an invited talk or a pre-circulated discussion. Participant research links Africa, Europe, America and the Caribbean and covers a range of campus constituencies.

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